Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 Boston Marathon

Though Boston was not my "A" race of spring and I hadn't been training specifically for a marathon, I'd been excited about it for weeks... First, it's the Boston Marathon!  Second, I had really strong feelings about running after being there and seeing the tragedy unfold last year.  And third, I would be running with an amazing group of friends, with my dad and my husband there to cheer me on.

Packed my lucky shoes and headed up to Boston on Saturday morning
Checked into our hotel and headed to the expo.
After picking up my bib and race packet,
I met up with my family at the Convention Center
Then walked around Boston for a bit
Walked down Bolyston with my family to check out the finish line

On Sunday, I had a lovely brunch with my family and then headed out to Hopkinton to check out the start line before checking into our hotel in Milford.

After dinner, my family dropped me and Brittany off at our hotel, where we met up with Caren and Jennifer.  I stayed at the same hotel last year; it's really convenient to getting to the start but less so for spectators trying to get to the finish, so we had a room for runners while our families stayed in Boston. The only problem was, with the elimination of bag check and no plans to return to Milford following the race, we had to take only things we needed for the race or were willing to part with.  It was a little more work logistically, as we had to sleep in the throwaway clothes that we were planning to leave at the start, pack an extra set of travel size toiletries, etc, but it was worth the hassle to eliminate any unnecessary race day stress.

All decked out in our fancy pajamas aka pre-race throwaway clothes
The great part about staying near the start is that there's no need to get up early to go downtown for bus loading.  Instead, we walked out of the hotel and right onto a shuttle bus at 8:30.  This has multiple advantages, most notably the availability of working plumbing throughout the majority of the morning.  Last year, the hotel bus was able to drop us off right near Athlete's Village, but because of additional security measures, we had to be dropped off at a designated parking area, go through a security checkpoint (wands and people checking bags, similar to most sporting events or concerts), and then take another bus the rest of the way to Hopkinton.  I figured we would still have plenty of time, but an accident on the highway had caused a big traffic jam, and the security checkpoint line went around a block.  The delays caused a slight amount of stress, but not bad.

At that point, my only pre-race concerns were (1) peeing and (2) finding Ellen.  Since we were late to our designated meeting spot and only Jennifer had her phone, I figured the latter wasn't going to happen, but as we made a beeline for the porta-pottys, one of the first people we ran into was Ellen.  Hurray!  We were all together.  My happiness was short-lived, because when I saw the porta-potty lines I was pretty sure either my bladder was going to rupture or I was going to get a ticket for public urination (clearly I had done a good job of hydrating).  Thankfully Caren went to the front and 'encouraged' everyone to be more aggressive in moving our particular line forward, so I have her to thank for the fact that I didn't pee on myself or end up in the hospital.  Yes, I just wrote an entire paragraph about peeing.

As we finally left the bathroom area, they were calling for wave 2 corrals 7-9 to depart Athlete's Village.  My listed corral was 6, but Caren and Britt were in 8 and we wanted to start together, so since you can move back but not up, we all headed over to the big corral 8 sign.

In the corrals and ready for the start
As we walked toward the start line, I realized it had suddenly gotten pretty warm, and wondered if that would be a factor as the day went on.  The thousands of runners around us continued to shuffle along, until we finally crossed the start line and were off. 

Much of the first half of the race is downhill, so we tried to be cautious and start slowly.  The first couple miles clocked of in the 7:50s and then we settled into a pace in the high 7:30s-low 7:40s.  It was a little faster than I'd planned, but I made the decision that I wanted to stick with my friends through Wellesley and would back off the pace after that.  In hindsight, the faster pace most likely played a role in my later struggles, but sharing that experience with my friends was 100% worth it and if I had it to do over, I wouldn't have changed that at all.  

The first few miles went by pretty quickly, filled with chatting, dancing, high-fiving spectators, and reading some of the great signs along the course.  Caren, Jenn, and I were all wearing our Bull City Track Club singlets, so countless people shouted, "Go Bull City!" and we thanked every one of them with a woot, fist pump, or wave.  There were so many people!  Despite having a great experience, around mile 10 I was starting to feel warm and thought it definitely felt harder than it should for such an early point in the race.  Mile 10: 7:34. No wonder it felt hard, I was running too fast.  10-15 seconds might not seem like much, but it can make a big difference in a long, difficult race.  I told myself to not to worry and just enjoy the moment, and that was made easier as we ran through Wellesley and I read all of the "Kiss me" signs.  When we crossed the 25k mat, I wished by friends luck and Ellen and Jenn took off, while Caren opted to stick with me at a more relaxed pace through the infamous Newton hills.  

I'd been eating a chocolate cherry shot block every mile starting at mile 3, and all systems seemed fine until about 16.  Suddenly I just couldn't stand the thought of eating anything else, but I didn't feel I was bonking so I wasn't really worried about it.  What did worry me, though, was the heat.  By mile 16, I was taking three cups of water at each aid station: dump one on my head, drink one, dump another one on my head.    

I told myself to not worry about pace through the hills, and though I'd slowed to about 8:05 pace for mile 17, I was passing quite a few people who looked like they felt worse than I did.  And then I hit heartbreak hill.  Last year, I lost track of which hill I was on and thought I had one to go, so when I saw the broken hearts drawn in chalk on the street, I thought, "This is heartbreak? That's it? That wasn't bad at all!" Well, suffice it to say I did not think that this year!  I don't know how they did it, but the hills were bigger this time around ;)  

Happy to have made it to the top of Heartbreak Hill
At 35K, I knew it was definitely not going to be a PR day.  I turned off the lap pace on my watch, deciding to accept a slower pace and just enjoy the last 10K as much as possible.  I high-fived everyone with a hand out, smiled for the photographers, and tried to not look at my watch at all.  

Somewhere around mile 22
I knew my dad, Monte, and Mary were near the 40K sign, and I was able to spot them, which was great.  Since by that point I was pretty much jogging, I'd decided to stop to hug them.  I normally wouldn't want to add extra seconds to my time, but I really wanted them to know how much it meant to me that they were there to support me.  I think they were surprised by that, and Monte yelled, "Go! Go!"  Definitely 15 seconds well spent. 

Mile 24.5
With some energy from seeing my family, the knowledge that I only had a mile and a half to go, and the amazing crowd support, the last mile, though one of my slowest, was also one of my favorites.

The Citgo sign: The end is near!!
Somewhere in the 25th mile, I passed Larry Chloupek.  It is absolutely amazing to see what people can accomplish if they put their minds to something.

As I made the final turn onto Boylston St, I caught a glimpse of bright orange to my left and looked over to see Jenn.  I yelled over to her, but the crowd noise on Boylston was crazy.  She took off with a sprint to the finish and I thought it would be nice to finish together, so I sped up too.  That lasted about 10 seconds, and I gave up the chase, and finished just behind her in 3:31:41.  Last year I had what felt like a Jimmy V moment... running around looking for someone to hug after they put that medal around my neck, so it was great to have a friend there.  

We collected our medals, ponchos, food bags, and water, and waddled over to the Arlington St Church, where we'd planned to meet up with our families and fast teammates who'd started in wave 1 and long since finished.  

I cannot say enough good things about my 2014 Boston Marathon experience.  I loved almost every second of it (though my quads might beg to differ), and am so glad that I decided to make a return trip.

Bull City Track Club representing in Boston

Two Boston Marathon finishers in the family!
I have the best dad and husband a girl could ask for
It's amazing what a difference a shower can make!
BCTC Reunion at Porter's 

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